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Gleanings from Headline News – February 2022

Bee Mine: A Pollinator Love Story

Love is in the air. Learn about love, heartbreak, and romance in the world of pollinators; bees that wear perfume; hawkmoths that don’t pull their weight in the relationship; what happens when humans meddle with pollination; and more. Read more at Tufts Pollinator Initiative.

Delightful Photos Highlight How Native Plants Support Birds

Capturing a crisp image of a bird in flight, two mates lovingly preening each other, or an intense predator-prey interaction are coveted shots for any photographer. However, photographing birds with native plants – not just any plant – offers an exciting and captivating challenge. Read more at The National Audubon Society.

Why Gardeners Should Stop Using Peat Moss

Environmental leaders and other high-profile voices like Monty Don, the British horticulturist, author, and broadcaster, have been sounding the cry: Gardeners should stop using peat, because the consequences of its continued harvest on diverse peatland habitats, and the native plants and animals that inhabit them, are too high. Read more at The New York Times.

Fireflies, Jewels That Need Protecting

State, provincial, and local wildlife agencies have a vital role to play in coordinating firefly conservation. To that end, Xerces is excited to announce the release of a new publication to help agencies respond: State of the Fireflies of the US and Canada: Distribution, Threats, and Conservation Recommendations. Read more at Xerces Society. Watch ​​YouTube: Fireflies Jewels of the Night.

How Old is Zimbabwe’s Big Tree?

Patrut, who has been studying ancient trees for decades, and his team made the pilgrimage to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, to study the growth, age, and architecture of the “Big Tree.” The Big Tree is a colossal structure, soaring over 80 feet in the air, around 75 feet in circumference, with bulky branches, many stems that make up its trunk, and a wide, gaping hole at its core. The Big Tree is thought to be one of the largest and oldest African baobab trees in the world. Read more at Atlas Obscura.

Into the Red: How the Boston Globe Will Cover Climate Change

To report on the most pressing issue of our time, the Globe’s climate team is expanding and rethinking its coverage. It’s been three decades – the span of an entire generation – since a NASA scientist named James Hansen sat before Congress and testified that human-caused global warming was not only real but “already happening now.” We view this moment as historic and one that demands intensive journalistic scrutiny. Read more at The Boston Globe.

Increase in Marine Heat Waves Threatens Coastal Habitats

Heat waves – like the one that blistered the Pacific Northwest last June – also occur underwater. A new study paints a worrisome picture of recent and projected trends in marine heat waves within the nation’s largest estuary, with dire implications for the marine life and coastal economy of the Chesapeake Bay and other similarly impacted shallow-water ecosystems. Read more at The College of William & Mary Science News.

Setting Underground Rivers Free

Exhuming waterways that run beneath developed areas and restoring their natural flow and width is known as “daylighting.” In the Northeast, you don’t have to look far to find formerly lost rivers that have been brought back into the light. From Providence to New York to Boston’s Emerald Necklace, these forgotten waters are being surfaced to rejuvenate parks, revive local economies, and create bigger reservoirs that can prevent flooding during increasingly dangerous storms. Read more at The Boston Globe.

When Rewilding Confronts Common Perceptions of Nature

All park goers possess preconceived ideas about what defines “nature” and the role it should have in public parks. They have expectations for how nature bound by the culture of the city should look – expectations rooted in a lifetime of experiencing urban parks with close-cropped lawns modeled after European pleasure gardens. Read more at The Sierra Club.

Air Pollution Makes Life Difficult for Pollinators

Insects rely on a flower’s odor to locate a plant, but atmospheric pollutants alter these smells, making foraging more difficult. A new study in environmental pollution tested how much of an impact pollution has on pollinators in the field. They found a reduction in insect pollinators by up to 70 percent and a reduction in their flower visits by up to 90 percent. Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

What Do Birds Eat?

This is a truly incredible online tool that tells you what birds eat. The Avian Diet Database was created by Dr. Allen Hurlbert, Professor of Biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The database currently focuses on North American birds but will eventually encompass data for all species globally. Read more at Avian Diet Database.

Searchable Systemic Insecticides List

As a group, insecticides are perilous for insect life, including bees and other beneficial insects. Those insecticides designed to permeate plants from within – systemic insecticides – move through plants and may be present in all tissues after application, including pollen and nectar, posing unique risks for pollinators. Given their widespread use, Xerces decided to offer an easily accessible reference to the insecticides currently registered in the U.S. that are known to – or possess the potential to – show systemic movement in plants. Read more at Xerces Society.

Can Forest Change Children’s Immune Systems?

Playing through the greenery and litter of a mini forest’s undergrowth for just one month may be enough to change a child’s immune system, according to an experiment in Finland. Read more at Science Alert.

Do Pollinators Prefer Dense Flower Patches?

Historically, entomologists have concluded that bees and other pollinators select flowering plants according to the density of those plants in a given location. But other research has shown that pollinator visits do not decrease when isolated from same-species plants, suggesting that flowers in dense formations compete for pollinators. Read more at Entomology Today.

Making Rhode Island’s Food Systems Sustainable

While the state’s food sector is one of the largest employers in Rhode Island, the Ocean State is still overly reliant on outside food producers. Experts in agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, policy experts and stakeholders discussed ways to improve and better support the state’s food system. Read more at Eco RI News.

Spotted Lantern Fly Mapping In Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) announced that a small stand of trees was found to be infested in Shrewsbury, MA (Worcester County) with invasive spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula; SLF) earlier in January by MDAR surveyors. This is the second detection of the population of this insect in Massachusetts, following confirmation of SLF in the city of Fitchburg, MA in 2021. For a map of these locations visit UMass SLF Detections Map. Remain vigilant and report any sightings of SLF in Massachusetts to Spotted Lanternfly Report Reporting Form – Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project.